Sunday, August 19, 2018

Art With A Voice

The process of creating any artwork or piece of craft for that matter can be a therapeutic process. Creating something artistic produces a sense of accomplishment and something its creator can be proud of. This is true whether the creator is a beginger or an accomplish artist. However this is not art theraphy. The term 'Art Theraphy' has been popularized by adult-colouring books.  A term for this type of art is 'art for wellbeing'.

Simply through an artistic process a person may experience feelings of peacefulness, enjoyment and satisfaction. However if the person is a professional artist with a major exhibition next week, the process of creating that piece of artwork may not be so enjoyable. People take part in the process of creating art for a variety of people. If you ask 100 people why the chose to partake in art based activities you might get 100 different responses or you may get one. If you ask 100 professional artists the will tell you they create to sell. A professional seeks to make money from the skills, the trained artist even if they are self-taught is skilled in the process of creating art.

Someone from an indigenous culture might explain their art as a connect with the spiritual relationship with 'their country' or tribal land. Formal art thearphy may not produce a work of art and the person undergoing art thearphy is not an artist. Legally art produced during a therapy session can not be shown to others and thus unlikely to be seen in an art exhibition.

However artists often talk about finding their artist voice. There has long being a debate over what is art? What is craft? And what is the process of simply painting? Does it really matter anyway? The short answer is 'no'. 

This is a doll I created at art school. At art school we were required to create 'art'.  The face of the doll is art, the rest is very close to being 'craft', my tutor informed me.  We can debate all day where the line between art and craft. Here is this post I am referring to art as being Creator by a person to evoke feelings, emotions or thought. I argue some types of craft can do that.

So a professional artists create work to evoke a reaction from their audience.  Hopefully enough emotion for a person to buy it.  This is what gives artist their voice.  It is not something that is produce from a point of feelings of well being. Generally the work and professionalism of the visual artist is not well understood.  Few of us can sell enough too put food on the table and a additional income affords our ability to create art. 

The piece of artwork at the top of this post was created by an artist that works in a support art studio, even though his work appears in exhibition and sells, because he does not receive any payment, his skills and abilities are not value.  Like me the artist has cerebral palsy, unlike me he has no rights to his work. 

The general community see art produced by artists with a disability as a past time, an activity the do at an activity centre to fill in their day, giving the work no value.  Yet because I am an automist artist I can set my own price and my work sells. I am well respect in the art community and so is my work. And  now I can claim I am award winning. So my art has a voice - so pieces more that others.

I am proud of my work, not because it is therapeutic or because I am able to work as an artists despite my disability.  I know when the work I produce in not up to standard and I know when I achieve something magical.  I do not want people telling my imperfect art is great because I have a disability.  As a professional my work is and should be judged like every other artist.  If an artist is not prepared for criticism then they should put their tools away. 

This week along with other artists that live with their own challenges are show off our talents. In a exhibition called 'Having  Your Voice' I not quiet sure what that means.  I do know we all want the public to come see our exhibition and let the art speak for itself.  Good art always has its own voice. 

'Having Your Voice'
Ipswich Community Gallery
24th August to 26th August
Official Opening 3 pm Saturday 25th August

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Art Speaks All Languages

My body is sacred not my artwork
Art speaks all languages, but are we willing to listen?  A piece of art can speak to anyone or it can speak to no one. Art is the same whether it hangs in a gallery in New York, Tokyo, London or Brisbane, Australia. Whatever the language of the audience the same message is being delivered.
Art is consistent across all classes of society, it draws the homeless and the Australian Senate, however the viewer decides for themselves what they are to receive. The challenge of any artist is to evoke emotion from the audience and sometimes sell itself.
Art does not judge, and yet it is judged. Its image, technical strength, content and message is continually challenged by those who view it.  Art should promote discussion and evoke strong reactions.
Unless it is by a renowned artists, questions of its background and of its creator are not asked, all that really matters is the response.  So whether the artwork is created by a Jew or a Christian; a bisexual or straight person; an abled-bodied person or person with a disability is irrelevant.
Just as the art lover judges the appearance of the artwork, so does society judge the appearance of the artist, especially when they are visually different to others. This difference is not visible to the buyer so why should a curator judge on the grounds of disability? Surely like all artists, the work of artists with disability should be judged on its merit.
The audience is not asked to judge the artist, only the quality of their work. Artwork and creativity should be allowed to speak for itself.  I see no need to distinguish between abilities of the artist unless making an argument on the outstanding nature of their work.
"As an artist, once my artwork is hanging on a gallery wall, my disability is irrelevant." Judith Baker. For my art to continue to be socially relevant my disability needs to step into the background. You the audience should allow my work to speak for itself.   

Thursday, August 9, 2018

ndis What's Working Well For Me!

Sale at Foot by Foot
Aspire Art Gallery

The National Disability Insurance Scheme is designed to support people and families living with disabilities to live their best lives as part of their community.  The ndis provides an individualised plan to assist people to achieve their goals.  ndis goals can be around education, training, life skills, interests, hobbies, recreation, work, sport and community participation.

It is true some things are still not working the way it is intended and there are access issues around navigating pathways. However when they work . . . things can be wonderful.

Meet the Artist at Aspire Gallery

I have been an active member of Aspire Gallery for just over 12 months. Belonging to a gallery outside Ipswich is one of the things the ndis has enabled me to achieve. My one-on-one direct support enables me to visit galleries outside Ipswich. My team leader organises my calendar, delivers and collects my artwork and supports me to attend openings and other artist's commitments. As part of my Aspire Membership I am entitled to professional development advice.

At my last professional development session, my mentor again encouraged me to revisit my printmaking and to look at pop-art and pop-culture as an avenue. I am so glad I took that advice.

My Ipswich fans can check out my progress during September, I had so much fun creating this colourful art display. My current ndis goals are around extending my art practice and working towards a solo exhibition in Brisbane, so my work at Aspire Gallery has been a great stepping stone. 

In February, I had a solo exhibition at the Drawing Point Gallery, The Melting Pot. This was in the main an exhibition of textile dolls.  With this exhibition I also wanted to begin a discussion on social inclusion in the Ipswich art community.  The work of artists living with disability speaks for itself.  Access issues for these artists need to be addressed in order for them to participate. This is what the ndis was designed to do through looking at ways to improve daily living for the participants. 

Disability reduces a person's function in a 'normal' way. It is the structure of society that disables a particular person to perform a task. Whether that be physical, intellectual, social or psychological. Disabilty does not mean a person is unable to do certian things. For example they may paint with their feet, but they can still produce award winning work, if their access issues are meet.

My advocacy work in this area is another ndis goal. I seek to use art as a way to build social inclusion. Perhaps my largest contribution is using my ndis package to address my own access needs to show the community what is possible. 

Currently, I am hoping to take my doll exhibition to Brisbane in 2019, so I am putting together a proposal which will reignite the discussion. 

The other part of my plan is about improving my daily living through physio and technology.  I am working with someone who looks at how technology can improve my ability to function independently.   Improving my endurance through physio has enabled me to work in the art studio for longer and still make the social engagements required as an artist. 

I am now getting around my garden independently and not searching for the next post to grab on to.  Physio has definitely enabled me to enjoy being in the garden again.  This makes me feel much more alive and like I am doing something (gardening) for my own well being. I still need my in-home support worker to support me with the potting and moving my pots. 

As you prepare to transfer to the ndis or your next planning meeting think about what you want or what you want for your child. What are the things that could make life easier, more fun or improve independence.  Not everyone is able to live in their own home and not everyone likes gardening.  So what are the things that make you happy and how can the ndis help you to include these things in your life. 

With the ndis life can look bright.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

The Power of Words

Growing up I was told 'sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me'.  This was a response to bullies at school, we now know bullying has reached the point where someone's words result in people taking their own lives.  The pen or keyboard is mightier than the sword and those who use pens have a greater responsibility to use them correctly.

When it comes to advertising, we need to first consider the message we want to deliver.  I can't imagine why anyone would use 'Art Therapy' as the words to help people not feel less and isolated or to promote an art exhibition. The use of a double negative doesn't make for a positive message. Rather, the author has just announced to the public that these artists (of whom I am one) are less and do not belong. 

This hamper's my message of belonging and building a community of inclusion.  These are words that exclude rather than include.  Why would the public want to see an exhibition by artists that need to be empowered because they consider themselves less?  The message of the article is clear, come see an exhibition by artists that feel less able and less accomplished, to make them feel better about themselves. 

I am feeling very uneasy about my role in the exhibition.  With this kind of media as the Manager of Ignite artists, I cannot afford to support an event using this language.  I have considered not submitting my work, but this is an exhibition hosted by my art group, so I feel torn.  

The user of words needs to consider their message otherwise articles are written with mixed messages and dis-empower the people they seek to support.

My message remains 'let our art speak for itself.  The art will state we are equal.'  Disregard anything you have read about the exhibition and come let your own eyes make their own conclusions. 

"Hearing Our Voices"
Ipswich Community Gallery
August 24th to 27th

Friday, August 3, 2018

Growing Your Visual Arts Pratice and the ndis

The ndis is designed to grow the participation rates of individuals and families living with disability in the community in which they live.  This is achieved through a individualised plan where participants choose their own goals to work towards.  For some participants a goal may seem small, like learning to feed themselves independently, while others might set themselves the goal to move out of the family home.  My ndis goals are around maintaining my independence, becoming confident in self-directing my own supports, building my visual arts practice and working towards a more inclusive arts community.

`Meet The Artist'
At Aspire Gallery in Paddington
Did I mention I am one of the artists people came to meet.

This year as part of growing my art practice I  am hoping to find a gallery to house a solo art exhibition in Brisbane.  I  have had three solo exhibitions in Ipswich and have been part of Aspire Group Exhibitions for the last year.  Sometimes my work sells.  In the last exhibition I sold two pieces. 

With my ndis plan I access two types of support: these are in-home support and community access support. The ndis funds supports that are 'reasonable and necessary' to enable participants to achieve their goals.  My in-home support enables me to live independently, do my physio program and enjoy my garden.  In summer I use my garden as a salad bowl.  My support workers assist with housework, grooming, gardening, house maintenance and my exercise program. My health and well being is about not becoming dependent on others as I age. 

My community access hours are about achieving my goals to build my art practice and enhancing my lifestyle through a physio program.  This week my one on one community support has been used to grow my art practice.  I have a small stand of handmade products in Ipswich ArtTime Supplies. This week I changed over my stock. Well, I had sinus issues so my support worker did it, but I prepared the work.

In terms of the Ipswich art community artists are busy preparing for FUSED. A festival that focuses on the arts.  Music, performance, poetry, dance and visual art.  The visual art groups have two main competitions this year, "Decked Out" and "Faces" and we will be joined by the students of Arts Alive, School of Arts to present our work in the Ipswich Community Art Gallery. 

However, my art practice is about more than creating art to decorate peoples homes, offices and public buildings.  My art is about creating a 'space' where everybody belongs.  Sometimes people living with disabilities and mental illness do not feel like they belong.  It takes more effort to get out of bed in the morning to attend day programs, school or show up to the office.  Much of the Ipswich CBD is inaccessible due to the conditions of footpath, lack of access to buildings and social acceptance.  This inaccessibility has nothing to do with the quality of work we can put up on a wall.

On the 25th of August this month 'Hearing Our Voices' opens.  This exhibition allows Ipswich artists with disability to tell their stories. All art regardless of the subject matter or medium tells a story. For this exhibition the story is told through the eyes that look at the world through the barriers it has created.  Just finding accessible space to exhibit our work is challenging, then we need to deliver it to the gallery.

Next week I will be preparing a submission to take part in Metro Arts 2019 program.  I am applying for their new social engagement program.  My aim is to engage my audience in a conversation around 'difference' and becoming more socially inclusive. We want a society where everyone in the community has a voice, even when they may be physically unable to speak.  A very interesting prospect when currently I can't safely access the gallery, but 'The lift is coming'!

So, next week I hope to meet with the art director to discuss my proposal, this means getting my portfolio together and taking it down to Brisbane and getting into a gallery that has stairs.  These are the challenges artists with disabilities need to overcome. It should not be about questioning the standard of work we can produce though it is still a common assumption that we cannot compete.  My readers know otherwise. 

My Highly Commended 
in the 2018 QT Art Awards.

Two groups in the community that are misunderstood; artists and people living with disability. My ndis plan is allowing me to grow my art practice and extend my audience, however this is not the case for all artists living with disabilities, especially those working in supported art studios.  The ndis shifts the funding of supports away from traditional support providers to individual participants.  Sadly the ndis does not always recognise the what artists with disability contribute to the community and thus they are not funded as being in full time employment. The arts in Australia is not recognised for its contribution.  Thus visual art is seen as a pastime, hobby or resourceful as a means for well being, and it is all those things.  It is how I found my calling, but creating art can be so much more, through my art and my work in the art community I want to communicate a dialogue, not sit in a art group at a day centre. 

The ndia needs to recognise some people are engaged in the arts as employment. This allows them to tell stories as only they can tell them.  Education around disability awareness needs to come from those who best understand the social barriers that need to be addressed. 

But I'll leave you on a different note.  I know thanks to the ndis my art practice has grown this week and I explore new opportunities and take up new challenges in my art practice. 

A commissioned piece

Sunday, July 29, 2018

ndis beginning to motor on

Hi, for those who are new to my blog, my name is Deb and my ndis goals are based around, extending my visual art practice; self- managing and self-directing my own supports; maintaining my independence and working towards an inclusive art community in Ipswich.                                                                                                         
Ndis was designed to enable people with disabilities to participate in the larger community. For me that is around art and exhibiting my work in order to sell it.  I do this through working with art galleries; belonging to Ipswich Arts Connect and Arts Access Australia; and selling my artwork on Etsy.

I am a member of Aspire Gallery
Here I am at our Printmaking Group Exhibition

Some of my direct support hours are used to help me network with other artists; attend openings of art exhibitions; work with gallery directors and owners; produce artwork to sell and photograph my work for my portfolio. 

The ndis funds supports that are 'reasonable and nescessary' to allow participants to achieve their nominated goals.  These supports can include: direct support in home and in the community; respite care; centre-based support; daily living skills; equipment, assisted technology and modifications, consumables related to your supports and disabilities; e.g. new tyres for your wheelchair; therapy to enhance your independence and assistance to manage your funding.

What this looks like for you will depend on: you age; your accommodation arrangements; how you need support; your current support network; and your ndis goals.  The ndis is about delivering an individual response to the support needs of families and individuals. 

Working in my art studio and exploring "pop-art"

Like many others I too have struggled with the start-up with ndis.  In late June I entered into my second year plan which saw me redefine my goals and add building my own team of support workers. After many years of struggling to fit the traditional support model, I have been able to step away and create my own team and choose the services I want to access.

For a scheme designed to improve community access, the ndis has a few access issues of its own.  If you are struggling to find your ndis pathways, may I recommend calling or visiting your local area office and networking with others who are also struggling to access the scheme.  As a participant I am regularly providing feedback to the ndia to improve the access process for others.  At the end of the day, the ndis is run by a group of individuals who sometimes make mistakes. Don't take this personally, but feel confident in asking for reviews when appropriate.

Many are experiencing long delays in reviews, access services and equipment. In my first plan I wanted a wheelchair to cater for my work in the community.  This was not achieved due to an overloaded system and a shortage of qualified staff to process the applications. Along with my second year plan I received a give cause for what I asked for as it was not 'reasonable and necessary'.  The nids has approved my chair, but dispute many of the access requirements, many of which relate to my seizures and safety.  My therapist has included my seizure management plan, a reminder of post seizure care and has referred them back to my ndis goals to work in the arts community. I do not know how long this review will take.

However, this week my new moter for my existing chair arrived and I am all set to attend FUSED festival running from the 7th to 9th September.  Well . . . there's a few more art pieces to create before them. I will also have an art display of my "POP ART" at Arttime's front of store during September, but I feel peaceful knowing I have the correct supports in place, including a reliable support team.  

''Roger" is actually my piece for Arts From the Margins'
Exhibition as part of the Brisbane Festival.

The ndis may still deliver on what it promised.  The key is to be clear on your own goals and how you and your family want to achieve these.  Exercise your right for your access needs to be addressed. Remember people make errors and your local area coordinator (LAC) may not be to blame or be prepared.  Those with forward planning are the most satisfied with their outcomes. 

Well I am off to zoom into festival season 2018!

Friday, July 20, 2018

Lots of colour thanks to the ndis

'I will be there . . . 

This week was full of colour. I visited one of my favourite stores 'Bunnings' with my support worker.  I purchased brightly coloured paint for my 'pop art' series, and found flowers to add colour to my garden.

My ndis funding enables me to be part of the local art community, create art, and run a small business. And every now and then . . . my artwork sells. 

Sold at Aspire Gallery this week! 

The ndis supports participants like me to achieve their goals and be part of their communities through providing support and equipment to enable them to 'live a normal life'.

Every now and then we are reminded we are something bigger than ourselves. We are part of God's plan of salvation. However as I said good-bye to Penny, she reminded us 'Without crucifixion there can be no resurrection'.  She penned these words a Easter time.  Penny coloured the life of all who knew her and I wish she could have seen how many lives she coloured and knew she, 'mattered'.

 I was able to ask my key worker to drop me at the church and meet a colleague and pick up art supplies, while I spent time with my friends celebrating Penny. What meant the most was knowing I could leave at a time that suited me and not rely on others.

Thanks to the ndis I am living a 'normal life' and celebrating life, the way God intended.